One year on. 

Yesterday marked one year since that horrible 12 week scan and what was to be the start of the worst week of my life. I try not to dwell on it, as dwelling does no good, so I spent the day doing normal everyday stuff. I went to the dentist, met some friends for coffee and had my hair done. And it was ok. 

I’d be lying if I said my mind didn’t wander, but I needed to be busy and wanted not to dwell on things that can’t be changed. I think I succeeded in that. 

So, a year on and a lot has changed. The miscarriage association are still plugging away doing a terrific job of helping and supporting those who suffer a loss, and I had the pleasure of an email from lovely Ruth (to use her full name) a couple of weeks ago updating me on the latest with the educational videos I talked about in a blog post months ago. The videos have been made and are being rolled out to GP’s, Ultrasound technicians and anyone else likely to come in to contact with a woman suffering a miscarriage, any time now. I’m really glad I was able to offer some insight for this project and so pleased that it’s come to fruition. I sincerely hope it has the effect we all hope it will. 

On a personal level, although my loss still at times feels very recent and very raw it was in actual fact a whole year ago now. In that year I’ve got a new house, new job, got engaged, and of course welcomed little Arthur in to the world safe and well. I’m thankful and very lucky to have all that I have, I know that, and I try very hard not to take any of it for granted. Do I still wonder what that baby would have looked like? Of course. Do I still long for him or her? Absolutely. But then I remind myself that I wouldn’t have had Arthur, and he is pretty awesome so I choose to focus on that on the tough days. 

Although this is a morbid anniversary, I felt I needed to mark it somehow. Just let the universe know that I haven’t forgotten. Will never forget. Here seems as good a place as any to do that since here is where my recovery began really. Here is where I found unending support and understanding, here I found friends accross the world. We dragged each other through those awful times, and celebrated together through the happy times. Let’s hope there are more happy times to come for all of us. 

Due Date 

March 22nd is the day I was meant to have my baby. The date that’s been constantly at the back of my mind since last September, the one I’ve dreaded the most. 

If I’m honest, I thought being pregnant again would make it easier somehow but I think that was wishful thinking. It’s a couple of days away and I can already feel the emotions bubbling up to the surface so I’m really glad I had the foresight to book a couple of days off work Monday and Tuesday. I guess it’s different for everyone, and on the one hand I did think maybe being in work would be a good distraction, but deep down it just feels wrong to be getting on with life when I know that’s the day my life should have been changing forever. 

I don’t want to focus on how sad and how hard Tuesday is going to be for me – that’s a given, but at the same time I don’t want to brush it under the carpet and pretend it’s just another day. I kind of feel like I should be doing something to mark it. I just don’t know what. 

So I’ll be at home able to feel whatever I need to feel and grieve however I need to grieve without prying eyes or well meaning friends and colleagues trying to help but not knowing how. I decided that removing myself from that potentially painful situation was probably wise because people don’t understand. With all the best will in the world, unless you’ve gone through it yourself (and I hope you never do) you simply can’t understand. I know all it would take is for one person to say “at least you’re pregnant now though” in that helpful, cheery tone to make my head explode and me to say something I regret to someone who was no doubt just trying to help. 

So that’s where I’m at this morning. Headed off to my first NCT class to talk about all things babies when actually I’m pretty preoccupied with the baby that will never be. The one that nobody will talk about. Of course that then makes me feel guilty for (for want of a better word) “prioritising” my lost baby over my living one today. 

This whole process of pregnancy and miscarriage and pregnancy post miscarriage is a whirlpool of conflicting emotions – guilt, anxiety and stress. I know in the long run it’ll be so worth it, and I know from my own experience that time really does heal, but I also know that this pain will likely never leave me. I’m not sure I want it to either. After all, it’s all I have left. 

As hard as Tuesday will be, once it’s gone, it’s gone. I feel as though it’s the final stage of the grieving process. The last landmark date that I have to deal with. I’ve found a place for my grief and whilst it will always be with me, it’s manageable. I just have to get through Tuesday and then put that grief back in its box. 

 

It’s a funny old life 

Today I got chatting to someone at work,  someone I don’t really know all that well, even though I’ve always chatted to her and always liked her, we just don’t work closely together so don’t have the opportunity to chat much. My guess is that a mutual friend of ours has mentioned that I suffered a miscarriage, because the chat we had today wasn’t exactly light hearted “weather’s nice” chatter! 

This lady confessed to me that she’s going for IVF a week today. Or her first appointment anyway. She told me that her chances of getting pregnant are just 15%. She then told me that she’d lost a baby at 12 weeks back in 2014. So I shared my story too. We had a brief, relatively unemotional chat about it, in a way that only two relative strangers who’ve shared the same awful experience can do. It’s stayed with me all day, the thought that she’s got this 15% chance of having a baby. I remember how desperate I was to be pregnant again after the miscarriage, how unbearable not being pregnant was, and I think if I’d had a percentage put on it, the pressure would’ve been just too much to handle. So I think this woman is kind of amazing. 

I’ve been a total mardy cow this week! Miserable, tearful, angry, irritable…I’ve been pretty horrible to live with if I’m honest, and I know it’s hormones and I can’t actually control it (I have tried and it resulted in a major meltdown! The kind where you cry so much you can’t catch a breath and there’s snot everywhere!) but hearing about other women struggling to have their babies, it just makes me sit back and realise how bloody lucky I am. I’m lucky to have the crippling back ache, and I’m lucky to have the constant headache and the sore boobs and the crazy mood swings. Because at the end of it, I’ll have my baby. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? 

We’ve got our 16 week midwife appointment on Wednesday, and I’m both excited and terrified for it. Excited because we get to hear bub’s heartbeat for the first time…and terrified because a tiny part at the back of my brain keeps niggling at me, what if there isn’t a heartbeat. That first ever scan experience where there was no heartbeat has stayed with me. It hangs over me every time I have an appointment now. I think it always will. 

I’ve thought about it, and I think I’m going to give the woman at work my number. Because whether she gets pregnant or not, I understand partially what she’s gone through, and I understand that overwhelming need to be pregnant. I also understand the anxiety that a pregnancy after a miscarriage can bring. So maybe in some small way I can help. Even if she never uses my number, at least if she’s got it then the option is there? I know for me it was so much easier to talk to the “anonymous” friends I made through this blog than it was to talk to my friends and family, and certainly talking to others in the same situation has been, and continues to be a big help. 

Funny old life isn’t it. 

Paint Patches

This week has been really, really hard. I don’t really have any reason as to why this week should be harder than any others, but it was. Maybe it was because I got my period last weekend. The first one after a miscarriage is pretty awful because of the nature of it, it brings back all the awful memories (which by the way aren’t fading anywhere near quickly enough) of the miscarriage itself. It also throws your hormones all out because, clearly, you haven’t been through enough yet, you’re not emotional enough so let’s pile on the hormones too! Sometimes the human body is as cruel as it is amazing. 

I struggled through work, fighting the tears every day as I sat at my desk until a kind word from my old boss tipped me over the edge and opened the flood gates. That was Thursday, so then on Friday I thought “Finally! I just have to get through today and then I can go home and let it all out.” And that was a good plan…until one of the girls on maternity leave popped in to the office to catch up with everyone. She stood by my desk talking about her two month old baby. It was excruciating. 

Don’t get me wrong, firstly, she has no idea what I’ve been through and secondly even if she did, her life hasn’t changed as a result of it and it’s only natural that she’d want to share her happiness with friends and colleagues. I know all that and as a rational, logical person I can understand it.  It really doesn’t make it any less excruciating to hear though. Thank God I had something else to focus on – I’ve never studied a spreadsheet so intensely in my life! 

On top of feeling really emotional and generally crap, I now also have the confusion of feeling desperate to be pregnant again. I didn’t think that would happen so quickly (if at all) to be honest. We were told to wait until I’d had a period before trying again and we both thought that seemed really, really quick. I couldn’t imagine wanting to get pregnant again so soon and had quite a few freak outs at even the thought of it. Now though, only 5 weeks later, I feel ready. I feel positive that despite losing our first child, this time it’ll be ok. I don’t know whether that’s some pre programmed survival instinct to stop the human race from going extinct, or whether it’s my desire to have a baby overriding everything else, but whatever the reason I feel like next time it’ll be ok. 

When you lose a baby, certainly from a mother’s perspective anyway, you’re left with this emptiness. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it but it’s a sort of black hole inside you. It’s a void that you know only one thing can fill. I don’t know if every woman feels it, but for me I knew I was pregnant instantly. I felt pregnant, different, wonderful. (And yes, also sick and tired and emotional) That’s what makes the emptiness so all consuming I think, to go from feeling pregnant to feeling nothing is a really hard thing to get your head around. It’s unnatural after all – normally when there’s no longer a baby inside you it’s because you’ve given birth and you have this tiny little person to look after. I also can’t help but think that by now I should be able to feel my baby moving. I know that’s not constructive, and I try not to dwell on it, but I feel robbed. We should’ve been painting the nursery by now. The paint patches remain on the wall – a painful reminder of the plans we were making, the unopened tin of paint still sits in the room I can’t bring myself to enter. 

I don’t know if we’ll try again yet, I don’t know if when we do we’ll get pregnant straight away. I don’t know if we’ll have to endure another miscarriage. There are so many things I don’t know, but what I do know is that I love Paul and I love our baby. The ten weeks I had of feeling blessed, lucky, excited, and hopeful were the best of my life. I can honesty, hand on heart, say that I’ve never been happier than I was for those 10 weeks and despite the 6 weeks that followed being, without doubt, the worst of my life, I don’t for one second wish that I’d never been pregnant in the first place. 

I’m determined to make next week a better one. So today I’m taking the power back from the grief. Those paint squares and that tin of paint? I’m going to do something about them. I’m going to clear out the room that breaks my heart, and I’m going to open that sunshine yellow paint. I’m going to think of it as a fresh start because I know deep down that room is going to be a nursery one day, so I’m going to paint it in that cheerful yellow and dare myself to leave the door open and not shudder every time I pass it. Maybe I need to confront that last remaining link to my first pregnancy. Maybe it’ll help the healing.